Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Exclusive buyer’s brokers work only with buyers and don’t take listings. They’re obliged to help you find the best deals and lowest price. Unfortunately, agency standards have changed so much in the past ten years that real estate agents themselves are likely to be confused about their obligations to buyers and sellers, even though in most places they are supposed to give you a disclosure form explaining your relationship.
Bottom line: You don’t truly have an advocate in your corner unless you both sign a contract saying so.
A new breed of broker, known as an exclusive buyer’s agent, acts as your advocate. Like a traditional broker, an exclusive buyer’s agent steers you toward attractive homes and helps you scout out banks or mortgage companies, where you can borrow what you need to make the purchase. Unlike a traditional broker, however, the exclusive buyer’s agent guarantees to protect your interests in negotiations with the seller on the price of the house and any necessary repairs.
If you ever doubted the value of real estate agents who work solely for home buyers (as opposed to traditional agents who report to sellers), consider this: A recent study by U.S. Sprint found that 232 relocating Sprint employees who hired buyer’s brokers paid an average of 91% of a home’s list price. People who use traditional agents typically pay about 96%. On a house originally priced at $150,000, that’s a difference of $7,500.
A traditional real state broker is legally bound to work for the seller who pays the commission and therefore may be more intent on selling listed homes than finding your dream house. Even Realtors who don’t hold the listing on a given house act as subagents to the seller. So unless a broker says that he or she is working for you — brokers are now legally obliged to disclose who they represent — you can assume the broker is working for the seller. Such agents must pass on information such as the buyer’s income to the seller, who then has a better idea of what price to hold out for.
The New York Times
Buyer brokers say they can negotiate the best price for their clients. “We act in a sense like an attorney or an accountant to protect the buyer, so that they can make an informed decision and buy the best home for them,” Mr. Hathaway, the Memphis broker, said.
Although there are variations, the buyer broker generally receives the same amount as a seller broker’s subagent who produces a buyer. The amount that the seller receives for the home is the same as would be the case if the home’s purchaser had been found by an agent representing the seller.
Representation is something buyers could and should have had all along, said Maureen F. Glasheen, a former general counsel to the New York state Department of State and now a business and legal consultant in Albany.
A conflict of interest is more likely when a real estate firm that represents sellers assigns you one of its brokers as a buyer agent. That’s why many people believe an “exclusive” buyer broker is preferable. If there aren’t any in your area, and you have to use a listing broker, “make sure they disclose when they are showing you properties they have a financial interest in,” says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumers Federation of America.
Most agents who show you homes don’t represent your interests. They work for the seller, and their object is to sell the house for the highest possible price.
Buyer Advocacy appears to be taking off. “I’ll never buy a house any other way.” says Mrs. Renee Talley, Highland Park TX.
The Wall Street Journal
Exclusive agencies are the best. They remove any conflict of interest, which is the main reason for considering a buyer broker in the first place.
To Buyers: If you want representation, work with a buyer broker. They are legally obligated to represent your interests in any negotiations with sellers, states The Consumer Federation of America. Groups such as the Consumer Federation of America and AARP recommend using buyer’s agents.
Many people don’t realize that, unless specifically stated otherwise, brokers are legal representatives of sellers. A buyer broker, representing only the buyer, may be able to secure a better price and better terms.
U.S. News & World Report
Buyer brokers: agents that buyers can call their own…If your real estate agent isn’t a buyer broker, he works for the seller…Buyers no longer have to fend for themselves.
Level the playing field when you buy a home…You may get a better deal with your own broker pulling for you…The introduction of buyer brokers takes a horribly one-sided process and simply makes it fair.
The New York Times
Confusion often arises because many buyers believe that the agent who shows them houses works on their behalf. In fact, subagents of the listing broker – often they are agents who work for another office – also act on behalf of the seller.